Articles in IM90 - June 2015

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Summary of the main articles in IM 90 which was published in June 2015

The Millstone, a Swedish story, freely translated from the German, and adapted into English by Susana V. Louro

This is a short story about Mats and Katya, two Swedish children whose grandfather operated a watermill and their trials and tribulations when persuaded by another child to take an unused millstone from near the mill pool to sell so as to raise money to spend at the annual fair in their village.

Processing of Madder in the Netherlands  by Jan Both

Madder is a plant whose roots provide a red dye, which was used for centuries for dyeing textiles. Up to the 1820s, the south west of the Netherlands, centred on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee,  was the main producer of madder and supplied a large export market. The processing and drying of the madder roots in the specially designed and built meestoven is described, along with the use of horse mills to crush the dried roots. The madder trade, whose merchants were based in Rotterdam, came to a halt in the late 19th century due to the discovery of making certain dyes from coal tar.

In Search of Mills in Cameroon by Benoît Deffontaines

Visits by the author to the country of Cameroon in Central Africa showed that the local population relied on the use of pestle and mortars or saddle querns for preparing certain aspects of their culinary requirements. The saddle querns are used today for the preparation of condiments and also to some extent for cereals. Apparently most Cameroonian households had a saddle quern for this purpose, however today it is more likely that they have their condiments ground up at their local market stall when they are purchased. This has led to an increase in the number of hand powered mills imported into the country for this use. The author’s searches for other types of mills discovered home-made wind powered pumps utilising second hand vehicle parts and one disused waterwheel that had been used to generate electricity. Unable to bring back a genuine saddle quern (due to weight restrictions) the author was able to find iconographic reproductions of them on jewellery and  native carvings.

The Story of the Waterpowered Heritage in the Lower Valley of the Essonne, France by Karine Berthier

The city of Corbeil-Essonnes lies about 30km south of Paris at the confluence of the River Essonne with the Seine. An overview of the development of water power in the area and its relationship with the capital city over the last millennium is described. Starting in the early medieval period with corn grinding the use of waterpower diversified over the centuries to include oil production, cloth fulling and paper making. Later on in the post medieval period tanning, gunpowder manufacture and cotton spinning became prevalent by the 18th century. This article shows that France was well represented in the industrial revolution, employing distinguished scientists and inventors at the mills on the River Essonne, such as Lavoisier at the gunpowder mills and Nicolas Louis Robert, inventor of the continuous paper machine. Other well known figures form part of the story with Christophe Oberkampf, producer of textiles called “Toiles de Jouy”, having a spinning mill at Chantemerle. In the 19th century the Darblay brothers were well known in the paper industry for their factory at Essonnes and the corn mills at Corbeil developed into the Grand Moulins de Corbeil, an enterprise that continues to provide Paris with flour today.

The Windmills of the Campo de Cartegena: Part 2 – Brine Pumping and Salt Crushing by Chris Gibbings

Following on from looking at the water raising windmills of the Campo de Cartagena in the last edition of IM, the author now turns his attention to the salt mills. These are nothing like as numerous but are concentrated in the region of the inland lagoon of the Mar Menor. The author shows how two of the windmills with two scoop wheels each were used to raise sea water into the salt pans where it could be evaporated. A number of photographs show how they looked on his visit in 1978 and their appearance today. The remains of another four windmills that were used in the salt industry, both for raising sea water and for crushing lumps of salt are also shown although three of them are now merely truncated empty towers. Development along the spit of land known as La Manga del Mar Menor over the last 25 years can only be described as terraforming which has completely destroyed these mills natural habitat although local councils are now attempting to promote the windmills as tourist attractions.